Man sentenced to prison for prescription drug fraud conspiracy

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A man was sentenced Wednesday to more than three years in prison for his role in a prescription drug fraud conspiracy.

Byron Hope, 36, was sentenced Wednesday to 39 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins, according to a statement sent to FOX6 News by U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance. The sentence was part of a plea agreement Hope reached with federal prosecutors.

Vance said Hope pleaded guilty in April to one count of conspiracy to defraud a health care benefit program and to two counts of aggravated identity theft. The identity theft charges result from two prescriptions presented under stolen names, one at a Pell City pharmacy on Feb. 8, 2009, and another at a Calera pharmacy on Feb. 21, 2009. Hope acknowledged in his plea agreement that he conspired with others to defraud the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan and United Health Care Inc.

"The fraud perpetrated in this case was a double hit on society," Vance said in the statement. "The criminals illegally obtained narcotics and stole money from insurance companies to pay for them," she said. "We intend to be vigilant in detecting and prosecuting this type of crime."

Vance said Judge Hopkins also ordered Hope to forfeit $72,746 as proceeds of illegal activity, and to pay the same amount in restitution to the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan.

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